There are special people in this Ummah that Allah (SWT) has promised to elevate above others; and they are the people of knowledge. Allah (SWT) says:
Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. (58:11)
The people of knowledge (or Ahl ul-‘Ilm) have been granted this status due to the consequences they face in the dunyaa (i.e. hunger, loss of wealth, imprisonment, ridiculing etc.) and keenness to safeguard the Book of Allah and Sunnah of the Messenger Muhammad (SAW). Because of this, they are people who should be treated with utmost respect for as long as they adhere to the commands of Allah and teachings of His final Prophet (SAW).
Every Muslim should sincerely seek to be from Ahl ul-‘Ilm as Allah (SWT) has praised them and has taught His servants to say:
My Lord! Increase me in knowledge. (20:114)
The knowledge which we have been commanded to acquire should, in ideal circumstances, only be sought from Ahl ul-‘Ilm. However, with the final Hour drawing closer day-by-day, it is important for the seeker of haq not to limit his source of knowledge only to scholars.
The haq is not restricted to scholars; it can be carried by anyone, man or woman, child or adult, scholar or student. Therefore, it is incorrect for a person to say, for example: “I am not going to read an article or listen to a talk unless it is given by an ‘aalim.”
Such a statement can easily lead to stubbornness. Furthermore, it will prevent the ignorant from increasing their knowledge and receiving hidaayah (guidance) from Allah. Just because a person is a scholar it does not mean that he has absolute knowledge of everything; the scholar and the student are always learning. Also, it is highly probable for a student to be able to explain a certain point or even hukm better than a scholar.
We should distinguish the difference between ‘ilm and hidaayah. A person may have ‘ilm but he may be void of any hidaayah from Allah. Thus, knowledge is useless without hidaayah.
Who should we seek knowledge from?
Firstly, we should seek knowledge from ‘ulamaa (scholars) of haq. Allah (SWT) did not order us to ask doctors, engineers, plumbers or solicitors and so forth for hukm. Rather, He ordered us to ask Ahl udh-Dhikr, i.e. the ‘ulamaa.
However, we should bear in mind that a person cannot be an ‘aalim unless he does the duties of the Ambiyaa’ (Prophets). Hence, if a scholar is imprisoned we no longer refer to him as ‘aalim; we instead refer to him as “learned” or “knowledgeable” (as he is no longer doing the duties of the Ambiyaa’). Similarly, if the khaleefah (leader of the Islamic state) is imprisoned we do not continue to call him khaleefah; if a mujaahid returns from the battlefield we do not continue to call him mujaahid; and if a person returns from Hajj we no longer call him “Hajji”.
If there are no ‘ulamaa of haq available (for whatever reason), we should then refer to their students or close followers who have studied and had musaahabah (i.e. companionship) with them for a reasonable amount of time. Furthermore, we should measure a person’s trustworthiness based upon whether or not they act upon the commands of Allah. For example, one should not seek knowledge from people who are not working collectively in a jamaa’ah to establish Allah’s Deen, or from individuals who live between the Kuffaar and do not command the good and forbid the evil openly and publicly.
In general, it is safe to listen to and seek knowledge from those who: (1) are trustworthy (and fulfil all their duties), (2) refer to the Qur’aan and Sunnah by the understanding of the Sahaabah, and (3) have studied with a scholar of haq.
It is not a condition for a person to be a scholar before he can speak about Islam and give da’wah.
Don’t judge a book by its cover!
How to know who is a scholar of haq (truth) and who is a scholar of baatil (falsehood)
Allah (SWT) has made the haq (truth, i.e. Islam) so clear and distinct from the falsehood. Any person who is on true guidance from his Lord will never suffer from the problem of being confused or uncertain about the haq and ahl ul-haq (the people of truth). However, nowadays since we are living in a time of fitnah the enemy has succeeded in destroying us indirectly via the use of puppet rulers, evil scholars and so called Islamic television channels, websites and radio stations. The criminals, apostates and evil scholars are elevated and promoted as heroes of Islam and the best role models for Muslims to follow.
In this short publication we aim to highlight and discuss how we as Muslims can know the evil scholar from the scholar of haq, and who we can trust for our Deen (seek knowledge from). In our present day reality the majority of Muslims no longer refer back to the Qur’aan and Sunnah exclusively for their actions. Rather, whenever we dispute with them they always refer back to certain figures and ‘ulamaa (scholars) who they blindly follow, such as Sheikh Fawzaan, Ubaykaan and Yusuf al-Qardaawi etc.
Whenever we disagree with such “scholars”, or even follow the fataawaa (divine decrees) of the scholars of haq who have called these people apostates, we are always told, “Who are you compared to these great ‘ulamaa!?” Even despite the fact that these shuyookh (plural for sheikh, i.e. scholar) have contradicted with many issues and divine rules in Islam which should be known to every single Muslim.
However, as we have already mentioned before, Allah (SWT) has made this Deen of ours so clear for us to follow, and has left us with certain guidelines and criteria for ruling, judging and determining the truth. It is not difficult at all for any true Muwahhid (monotheist) to know who is on the haq and who is on baatil. This is because he is equipped with the usool (foundations) of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and is uncompromising when it comes to the haq. However, the one who has a disease in his heart does not wish to sincerely worship and please his Lord exclusively. His only concern is to manipulate the divine texts in order to justify his own evil deeds and intentions. Therefore, the reason why he would choose to defend these scholars is because they give him grounds to justify his corruption, despite the fact that they explicitly contradict with what is known in Islam by necessity.
So how can we know who is a scholar of haq and who is a scholar of baatil?
The Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said in a famous hadeeth:
“The ‘ulamaa are inheritors of the Anbiyaa’ (Prophets).” (Abu Daawood and at-Tirmidhi)
This means that the ‘ulamaa have been given the responsibilities of the Prophets after they have passed away. The only differences between the two is that the Anbiyaa’ are infallible and received revelation from Allah; whereas the ‘ulamaa are not infallible (are capable of committing sins) and do not receive any revelation. Therefore, they have been given the exact same duties and responsibilities as the Prophets. These duties are many and can be summarised into at least seven main points.
1. They came with the message of tawheed and rejecting taaghout
Allah (SWT) says in his book, al-Qur’aan:
“And we sent to every nation a messenger (proclaiming): ‘Worship Allah and reject (keep away from) taaghout.'” (16: 36)
Indeed, how can a scholar be an ‘aalim unless he follows the footsteps of the Prophets? All Prophets and Messengers came with a unified message, and that was to order the people to reject taaghout and worship, obey and submit to none but Almighty Allah (SWT). There are numerous articles and books of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah which discuss the meaning of taaghout; therefore, we are not going to dive into its meaning in depth. However, as a reminder (and reminders benefit the believers) we know very well that at-taaghout in general, is anything which is worshipped, obeyed or followed other than Allah (SWT). Thus, Shaytaan, idols, desires, rulers who do not implement Islam and scholars who do not judge by the Sharee’ah etc. are all forms of taaghout.
Consequently, since they are all forms of taaghout; as a prerequisite of being a Muslim we are obliged to reject, hate, keep distance from, have animosity and make takfeer upon them. The greatest of tawaagheet (plural for taaghout) today are the rulers who do not implement Islam, the scholars who make legal what Allah (SWT) has forbidden, and the kufr law which is widespread in every country today. Therefore, it is impossible for any ‘aalim or ‘ulamaa of haq to defend these people or be close to them in any way. And any scholar who you see defending these people or allying with them is contradicting with, and opposing the path of the Anbiyaa’; therefore, testify that they are crooks and not ahl ul-haq.
Scholars such as Fawzaan, Ubaykan and Yusuf al-Qardaawi are very famously known for supporting the apostate rulers of today who have killed and imprisoned thousands of Muslims, and allying with the disbelievers (by giving fataawaa which justify their actions) against Muslims. Therefore, how can anyone say that these people are great scholars and none has the right to call them Kaafir (for negating their Eemaan), or at least differ with them? Rather than rejecting taaghout, which is what the Anbiyaa’ ordered their people to do, they have allied with them (the tawaagheet) and defend them more than they defend the honour and sanctity of Allah (SWT) and the believers.
2. They all gave da’wah (to Allah’s Deen)
Another duty of the Anbiyaa’ is that Allah (SWT) entrusted them with calling people to His (SWT) Deen and Sharee’ah; therefore, any ‘aalim who is not calling people to Islam openly and publicly is not a scholar of haq. However, this tableegh (or da’wah) was done in a particular way. The Anbiyaa’ (pronounced Ambiyaa’) never called for interfaith (a mixing of beliefs and customs). Rather they dissociated themselves from their people (the Kuffaar) and from what they worshipped besides Allah (SWT):
Prophet Yoosuf (AS) said:
“Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter.” (12: 37)
Ibraaheem (AS) said:
“…We have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, animosity and hatred for ever, until you believe in Allah alone” (60: 4)
There are many more aayaat and ahaadeeth which speak about the hatred and animosity of the Anbiyaa’ towards their people and false gods which they worshipped besides Allah (SWT); however, to list them in this short treatise would require too much time.
The main things which should be understood is that the Prophets never called the Kuffaar “brothers”, compromised with them or called for interfaith or integration. Therefore, any scholar who does these actions, such as al-Qardaawi or Hamza Yusuf, are not scholars of haq but scholars of baatil (falsehood), so it is better not to refer to them at all.
3. They all gave bayaan (explanation and elaboration of the divine rules)
Another duty of the Anbiyaa’ was that they were obliged to give bayaan (explanation and elaboration) of the divine rules in order to clear any ambiguity or misconceptions. Therefore, the ‘aalim of haq will always be refuting any innovations (such as the Fiqh for Minorities), misconceptions or any misunderstanding of the divine texts.
4. They guided the people
Allah (SWT) made it an obligation upon the Prophets to guide their people to the truth by making them refer to the revelation, i.e. the scriptures which Allah (SWT) revealed and the traditions of His chosen Messengers and Prophets. However, it was not their duty to make them (the Kuffaar) into believers or give them conviction and tawheed, as this is a form of guidance (tawfeeq) which only Allah (SWT) can grant.
The ‘ulamaa have this same duty of guiding the people to the wahy (revelation) and warn them from following anything other than that. However, the evil scholars of today no longer guide the people to the revelation; rather they guide them to personal benefit, interest and the wishes of the Kuffaar. If these scholars are completely misguided how can we expect them to guide us?
5. They were the best example
The ‘ulamaa should also be an example for us to follow just like the Anbiyaa’. Therefore, they should resemble the Prophets in every way, from their character, personality and behaviour. They should speak, dress, and suffer the same consequences as them.
All the Prophets were attacked by their people, labelled as being a lunatic, extremist and minority etc. They were also rejected, ridiculed and even imprisoned. Therefore, the true scholar of Islam will also be labelled, detested by the Kuffaar, ridiculed and mocked at.
Scholars such as Qardawee and Hamza Yusuf etc. are not attacked, mocked at and ridiculed publicly by the Kuffaar and the majority. Rather they are praised and declared as untouchable. They are (and were) also funded, promoted and endorsed by the tawaagheet. This is another great sign that they are crooks and not on the haq.
Prophet Yoosuf (AS) was imprisoned for years, Ibraaheem (AS) was thrown into fire, Moosaa (AS) and his companions were chased into the sea, and the Quraysh tried to kill Rasool-Ullah (SAW) numerous times. When have these scholars ever been attacked by the Kuffaar or faced similar hardship as the Prophets of Allah (SWT)?
6. They should keep reminding the people
No matter what people say about them (the ‘ulamaa of haq), they should never give up calling people to worship and obey none but Allah. They should also continue to remind the people of Allah and His Deen, even if only a few people or even nobody listens to them.
7. They took qiyaadah (leadership)
Another attribute, or duty of an ‘aalim is that he should always take leadership. In fact, the term ‘aalim comes from the word ‘alama, which means banner. A banner is never hidden; it can be seen from even the most remote places. Therefore, any scholar which is not leading the Ummah out of her current crises (by jihaad in the path of Allah, for example) and has the time to sit back and write volumes and editions of books, bear witness that he is not a true ‘aalim who is concerned about dealing with the affairs of the Muslims (except if he was living in a time when authority was with the Muslims and Islam was being implemented etc.). The ‘ulamaa of haq should be on the front line and lead the masses with the Qur’aan and Sunnah to victory, honour and authority on earth.
O believers in Allah! Never judge a book by its cover! Do not be impressed with the Arabic language, knowledge, length of beard, dress, fame, reputation, looks, books etc. of any scholar. You know very well that there are certain things in Islam which are known by necessity; such as that allying with the Kuffaar is apostasy; and alcohol, interest, free-mixing etc. are all haraam. Therefore, any scholar who permits these (no matter what justification he brings) is not a scholar of haq, rather he is a scholar of baatil.
It is not even necessary or a condition that a scholar should be given tazkiyah (recommendation) or a certificate from a so-called Islamic institution. As long as he never contradicts with what is known in Islam by necessity, follows the Qur’aan and Sunnah in accordance with the understanding of the Sahaabah and is a trustworthy Muslim who does not negate his eemaan, he will be a safe person to learn from and follow.
This issue has been made clear to us by Allah (SWT) for those who are on guidance.